Judge in U.S. Awards Cuban Jailed Journalist's Mother $27.5 million
Omar Rodríguez Saludes, former director of Cuba's Nueva Prensa news agency, is 43 and serving a 27-year sentence. His crime: riding around Havana on a bike with a camera around his neck, snapping photos of things the Cuban government preferred remain in the dark.
Olivia Saludes said her son was subjected to inhumane treatment, including substandard food that still had animal hair and skin on it. Her grief left her ill and unable to work, according to her suit.
"I have no doubt that the acts of the Cuban government are intended to oppress those in Cuba who seek to freely voice their opinions and ensure the suffering of their families, and that punitive damage award of sufficient magnitude is needed to serve as a deterrent against similar acts in the future," U.S. District Court Judge Alan Gold wrote. He ordered the government to pay $2.5 million in compensatory damages and the Communist Party to pay $25 million in punitive damages -- more than double what lawyers had requested.
"This type of systematic torture, abuse of due process was so great -- an arrest without trial, horrible prison conditions, rats -- and was so shocking to the conscience of the court that the court felt that $27.5 million was necessary to send a message to the Communist Party of Cuba and the entire international community," said attorney Pedro Martínez-Fraga.
"Cuba has a lot of debtors in this country," Martínez-Fraga said. "I will ask debtors to satisfy this judgment before they send Cuba another penny."
The Cuban government did not respond to the suit.
Source: Miami Herald